Episode 27 - Reflection Scripts


Peter: Hey Jen, good morning.

Jen: Hey Peter, good evening, as it's 9:00 PM here in New York City.

Peter: This feels a little like deja vu for me to say, but our listeners don't know that we just spent twenty minutes talking when we weren't recording.

Jen: Oops.

Peter: Let's start it fresh. I thought that, given today at the time of recording this, is six months since we started the podcast - it would be fun for us to do what you and I call, and many other people are familiar with, call a "reflection script," or a "reflection summary."

Jen: I'm into it. You know, I love doing an R.S., so let's go. This is The Long and The Short Of It.

Peter: For context, I straight up stole this idea of a reflection script from Seth Godin's altMBA, so the three thousand plus people that have taken it and are listening to this, they know what we're talking about. But for those that don't, essentially a reflection script is a creative way to either write or talk or just spend time thinking about and reflecting on a project, or an audition, or an interview, or a podcast, or like, a piece of work that you have done. So you some time reflecting on it and answering questions like, "How could I have made it better?" "What might I do differently?" "What went well, what didn't go well?" And really I think of it as giving myself permission to change my mind, and also giving my future self a reference point of what I learned in this moment, so that if I ever reflect back on it, I'm like, "Oh, that's right, I learned that I've already made that mistake once before. Maybe I should stop making it again and again and again." How do you think about reflection scripts?

Jen: I love the idea that it's a gift to your future self. I think that's wonderful. I had a pretty solid reflection process prior to the altMBA, but it was only a single step, which was I reflected on my work, and then I sort of, I guess, put the reflection in a, in a drawer and moved on. But what I love about how we did this in the altMBA and how you and I have continued to do this moving forward is that it sort of becomes, like, this volley, where you put the work out there, and then you get feedback, and then you reflect on the feedback, and then the person who gave you the feedback gives you feedback about your reflection. And it's sort of this - sort of a cyclical feedback loop, and I love it. So the way you and I have used this, I'll just give, like, a real-life is, let's say I'm working on a new talk that I'm going to give. While I'm working on it, I'll send you recordings of it, and you give me feedback and all that. But when I actually deliver it - actually it's not even when it's new, I do this every single time I give a keynote is - within a couple hours I will record myself on my voice memo app, sort of unpacking how it went, what were the general feelings, what went well, what didn't go well? And then I send it to you and you listen to it. And then you usually type me some notes in response, and then I type you some notes in response to your notes, and it sort of deepens your, or my relationship with the experience of having presented the work, and certainly helps point out how the next iteration can and will be stronger than the previous iteration. So I love a reflection script.

Peter: Yeah, I love that. We're at the point now where I think, I think it was me in November last year, I gave a keynote, and within about five minutes of finishing it, you sent me a message like, "Where's your R.S.?"

Jen: Yes, that's right.

Peter: I was like, "I'm just walking to the car, give me time and then I'll record it, I promise."

Jen: I'm like, "Give it to me while it's fresh, give it to me." That's funny. Yeah.

Peter: Okay, so, I mean, maybe it's a little self-indulgent, but I think it would be useful if we, like, stepped through what this looks like in real time. So why don't we do a real-time R.S. reflection script of The Long and The Short of It after six months.

Jen: Okay, so to be clear, what the R.S. is for, can you answer that?

Peter: The R.S. is for reflecting and learning, so that in the future, your work, creative endeavor, business project, whatever, can be better. That is how I think of it. Is that what, is that fair?

Jen: Yeah. Yeah. And the "who it's for" - typically you and I would be doing this without recording, so usually the R.S. is for you and me, for us to strengthen our ability to give and receive feedback, strengthen our relationship with each other. So the "who it's for" is usually Jen and Pete. But in this moment, listeners, the "who is it for" is for you, for you to be able to take a peak behind the curtain and hear what our feedback process is like.

Peter: Enjoy the peak, everybody. So let's go with our three, like, I feel like we have three pretty standard questions that generally make up the R.S.

Jen: Mhm.

Peter: Do you remember what those are?

Jen: Yes I do: What's the, what's the overall feeling or vibe? Like, what's your general sense of how that went? And then specifically, what went well? And specifically, what went less well, what needs improvement?

Peter: Okay, perfect. Let's go one question at a time, maybe.

Jen: Okay.

Peter: So I can start. So the first question - general thoughts, general feelings, having thought about this out loud. Okay. So generally speaking, I absolutely love recording this podcast with you. Like, from my perspective, and hopefully your perspective, selfishly, between you and I, it feels like the kind of creative project that is worthwhile, even if we weren't recording, and there were no listeners. Like, the process of sitting down, of improvising and having creative and thoughtful and coach-like conversations with one another is, like, inspiring, it's helpful, it's productive in the work that I do. And it's also just good for my brain and good for, you know, our relationship, in terms of the way that we can work together. So, selfishly, I feel really good about that. And then, like, more broadly, the fact that we do have people listening, the fact that we do have people writing us emails and questions and giving us ideas is like, unbelievably fulfilling, and at times, like, overwhelmingly humbling that that exists. So overall thoughts, I feel great about the podcast. What about you?

Jen: I concur, I would want to keep doing it even if no one was listening, because I love these conversations. I feel like I get so much out of the conversations, not only for myself, but for the people who I'm going to be working with. I could get off a call with you, and like, "Ah, I hadn't thought about it that way. Now I'm going to go share this." So it feels very productive to have these conversations. And the thing that I've been pretty jazzed about in the last month was, and at some point we'll have to talk about this more specifically, our "Authenticity Versus Integrity" episode. People went cookoo on both sides of the coin for it. There were people who said this was the the meaning of life summed up in twenty minutes, and other people who were like, "How dare you, how dare you think this way?" So that to me was, like, one of the most exciting moments in the trajectory of this podcast, where it felt like we had done what we had sought to do, which was to spark curiosity in people so that they ask more questions. And I feel like I want to figure out how we can do more of that, because we certainly never want to claim to have the answers, but always want to be seeking answers through asking questions, and it feels like we, we hit a nerve with that one that was exactly the kind of nerve we wanted to hit. So I want more of that. I want to figure out how to do more of that.

Peter: Yeah, I love that. I think, I think at the time I remember sort of almost being surprised, like, "Oh, we really like, we've struck a nerve here," and then I think you said to me, "Yeah, but this is what the point, this is the point of the podcast, this is what we want to happen, is generate conversations where maybe we change our mind cause we don't fess to have all the right answers." So yes to that, plus one to that. Okay, what about specifics? Specifically, what's going well?

Jen: Well, okay, I'm going to answer questions two and three at the same time, because this is something that is very clear to me, that when we started, you and I agreed that we would have three months worth of episodes in the can before we released the first one. So we recorded starting in May, and sometimes we recorded twice a week. Like, we had episodes that never really saw the light of day; they made it to the cutting room floor because we had so many to choose from. By the time we released the first episode, we had three months worth in the can. Now that we're in the school year and life is very busy over here in these old United States - I take all of the responsibility for this - we do not have three months worth of episodes in the can anymore. In fact, our deep bench has gotten more and more shallow, because my schedule has gotten crazy, and I have had to cancel numerous recording sessions because of projects that I'm working on that have just overtaken my life. And so I guess what went really well was that we did a lot of upfront work. What went less well is that we only have a couple episodes left in the can, so hope you don't mind that I, uh, put five sessions on the calendar this week. No, I'm just kidding. But no, we have to play some catch up.

Peter: Yeah.

Jen: And it's all my fault.

Peter: No, so I mean, before I do my reflection, I would like to just call out that that's, like, that's what the bench is for. So when we, when we, you actually had the idea, I mean I was like, "Let's just start publishing these," and you're like, "I think we should get three months in the can." Like, you had the wisdom and the foresight to know that at some point, one of us or both of us is going to get so busy we'll drop off, and so that's the point of having the bench. So, like, I don't necessarily see this as a problem that needs to be solved just yet. I see it as, we've used the bench, which we intended to use at some point, so don't beat yourself up too much.

Jen: Thank you for that. That is a very generous posture from you, which does not surprise me at all, and it makes me think about, I have some clients who are working on creative projects of their own, and I had been encouraging them to deepen their bench. But I guess I never really explained to them, and I probably wouldn't have unless you and I had this conversation right now, what, what the bench is actually for. It really is for those moments where other things take over your life, and sort of, like, the ivy climbs up the walls and you're like, "Where's the wall?" That's what's, that's what's happening right now. So, uh, I think that is a very useful reframe, which I intend to steal from you and use with my own clients. So thanks for that.

Peter: Of course. Steal away. Okay, so one specific thing that came to mind for me that I think we did well is - it seems kind of trivial, but it's the timing of the episodes. So, we deliberately make these podcasts between ten to thirty minutes, because our assertion is, truthfully ninety-five percent, ninety-eight percent of podcasts are too long.

Jen: Yes.

Peter: And those two hour, three hour interviews, some of them are fantastic, but some of them are just two or three hours because they can be two or three hours, I feel. So we made a deliberate decision to never exceed thirty minutes with an episode, to the point where one time when we did, I think I either cut it so that it was less than thirty minutes, or we just deleted it altogether, I can't recall. But so, we stick to that rule very strictly, which is that we want it to be short enough - it's commutable, you can get through it, it's not overwhelming, and then within a week, which comes around quickly, there's another one for you, like these little tidbits. And we've actually had feedback that, a couple of bits of feedback, one is, people like the length. The other we - is actually, "Oh, I wish they were a little bit longer because I enjoy them," and I actually take that as a good sign of leaving people, like, eager for another episode, which is great, cause you're like, "Perfect, there's another episode coming in six days time, or in seven days time," or whatever that is, so I'm okay with that. So that's I think one thing we did really well.

Jen: Yeah, I'm happy with that too.

Peter: Sometimes I get carried away with question three as a general rule. Like, "Oh, I could have improved on all of the things, everything could be better!" Such is the creative process. But specifically, I have a couple of light-hearted ones, and one I think is important. So the one that I think is important, let's go with that, is - and again, thankful for the generous feedback loop that we have with actually a few of our listeners - that there was a period of time where the balance was a little bit off, in that you lead, I think, like, six or seven episodes in a row. And I merely sat back and responded, and asked questions and held space. And that wasn't intentional, that wasn't deliberate, but what I think happened is, we, it fell out of balance a little bit, in that I wasn't bringing anything to the table, honestly, I was just reacting to what you were bringing to the table. So the reflection on me has been, you know, this has been over the last couple of weeks, of like, I need to think about some topics more to bring to the table. So that I think is something I could do better.

Jen: So I'm very grateful to the person who pointed this out, because I hadn't noticed it either. But then when you brought it up to me, it made so much sense. And you didn't say this just now, but you said this to me offline once, which is, that's the way our relationship started, was me as the client, you as the coach. So I was always bringing something to the table for you to react to, and we sort of, like, crept back into that old pattern without even recognizing it. So thank you, listener, for calling it out. We appreciate that.

Peter: Yeah. I mean, I also think there's some, like, some factors of, often it's 6:00 AM, and you're at the end of your day, having just had like, a huge day of coaching. So you've got ideas, and I'm like, "I'm just waking up, Jen, hit me with something."

Jen: Yeah, that's, that's probably true. That's probably true. Okay, so here is, I'm going to answer question three, because there's something that came up. I think it's not that this hasn't gone well, it's just, I think we could do a better job of helping people find the podcast.

Peter: Yeah, I agree.

Jen: I think we've been, we got very lucky because early on, I think it was like, maybe the second or third episode, Simon Sinek shared the podcast on his Facebook page, and we got a huge spike in listeners, like a crazy spike in listeners. And I think maybe we sort of, like, sat back, and we were like, "Well now we've got so many thousands and thousands of listeners, we don't like, really need to work that hard to put it out there." But we should be working hard to put it out there, because we're making it for people who we think would benefit from it. So I would like to see us, in the second six months, work harder to help people know that it exists.

Peter: I like that. And I would also add, to create more instances for people that are listening to interact with us and the podcast. So for example, we might do a Q and A episode again, where we actually encourage people to email us and go to our website and send us questions. So I mean, maybe right now, like, reach out, send us a question: hello@thelongandtheshortpodcast.com, send us an email and a question, and we would love to unpack anything and everything that you have, including like Jen mentioned earlier, if you completely disagree with something we said, we'd love that.

Jen: Yeah. And you know, we have been transcribing the episodes for people who are hearing-impaired, and yet we have never once actually told people transcripts are available. And we should probably do that. We should definitely do that, because we're making them for people who would need to read it instead of listen to it. So if we're gonna make it for them, we need to say, "We have made this for you, we hope you enjoy it."

Peter: And also, people, we're referencing a lot of resources and books and thought-leaders. So the, the transcripts are very helpful for people who are wondering what the name of that book was that Jen mentioned, and what the name of that podcast was that Pete mentioned. We have transcripts available of every single episode, thelongandtheshortpodcast.com.

Jen: Yeah, that feels better to say that out loud. All right, I didn't do question two. So I'm gonna -

Peter: Oh, you're going back.

Jen: Well I, I did one but, okay. I'm going to give another question two. Something that I think has gone really well is the variety of topics. When we first started, I wondered if we were going to end up doing this as seasons and taking a break, because we would sort of like run out of things to talk about. But what's been really exciting, and honestly, it's been very inspiring to me to know that there's always something new to talk about; it might be a topic that we've covered from a different angle before, but there's always a new angle, and that gives me hope for the future. I love that. So I think that's, that has gone very well.

Peter: I'm glad we could provide you some hope, Jen. Okay. I did promise two lighthearted things that we could improve - well, that I could improve. So the first is, there is an episode in which you swore, and I was in charge of bleeping out said swear word -

Jen: Oh my god.

Peter: - and I chose to go with a very New York-themed car horn. I received at least fifteen emails from people saying, "I was in my car, I heard the horn, you scared the absolute crap out of me, I thought it was someone else." So I need to do a better job at finding a bleep for when we feel the need to swear. So I apologize to everyone.

Jen: You have been living with this error for months. Like, he just can't shake it. So can someone absolve Peter of the weight of this car horn fiasco?

Peter: Well the thing is, people, people listen retroactively. So I, like, every now and then I'm like, "I think I'm over it," and then I get a message like, "I was just in the car, and I listened to -" oh, come on, we going again?

Jen: Can you, like, put a warning on the episode on iTunes or something, like, "Warning: car horn alert."

Peter: I mean, you can't do the car horn alert, but I could mark it as "explicit," so maybe we should have just done that.

Jen: Maybe.

Peter: Okay, so my other one was, was to press "record," because we actually spent twenty minutes having this conversation about forty minutes ago. And then I said, "Jen, I just realized I haven't pressed 'record.' We need to do all of this again."


Jen: But you know what was great about that? The second time, we were more concise. So there you go.

Peter: This was way better, yeah, this was way better.

Jen: It's all good. It's all good. Okay, so listeners, I hope you enjoyed our live recording of a reflection script. It is a very useful tool, and what I think is important to call out before we wrap this up is that when we started doing this in the altMBA, we did not really know in any sort of personal way - and in many cases it was the first time interacting with the person - we didn't know the people who were commenting on our work, and who were reading our reflection script and commenting on it. So although you and I have a very close relationship, you do not require a close relationship with someone in order to have the opportunity to try out a reflection script.

Peter: Yes. And we should definitely, and we will definitely do an entire episode on feedback, because that was gold, what you just said. But for now, this, I mean, that is The Long and The Short Of It.